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Freaking out on the front seat
(Teachers can be bad for you)

When my exam time table was handed over to me, I looked at it and saw that Chemistry was on the top of the list. Cursing the fools who have made that kind of routine, I could only imagine the amount of studies that I had to do in the next few days.

After few days of extremely hard work and tremendous effort (!), there I was, running up the stairs so that I could go to the exam hall in time. After entering the hall, I found out that the filthy routine was not bad enough for me… something worse was waiting…after casting a glance at the seat arrangement table I found out that my seat was right at the front…less than one metre away from our beloved teacher.

On the day of my once favourite subject, Social Studies, I entered the hall, and found out (with considerable shock) that our R miss was there, who was quite famous in the school for both her beauty and high-pitched screams. I sat on my seat, wondering whether I could write any thing if she kept screaming like that and then was devastated when I saw a slug like humanoid (who also happens to be teacher at our school), enter the room. Our slug like sir was eventually very happy to find out that the miss was alone and started chatting with her immediately.

I thought it would be wiser not to pay attention to all their blabbing and started praying to Allah so that the question would be easy. When the question was given, which turned out to be no easier than our teacher warned… I felt like crying. After the objective sheet was taken from us, I decided to answer the easiest questions first.

As I answered the sociology questions the blabbing noise grew louder and louder, but, after starting to answer the geography part, it became unbearable. Sir's pointless praising and R miss's high pitched screams made it even harder for me to concentrate. There I sat, trying and writing fast with the occasional help from my memory, (and often just from my own imagination.)

I heard them talking, Sir, praising that the miss was the greatest living cook in the universe (as if aliens doesn't count) asked modestly if she could write down the recipe of “Chicken chilli”, the greatest food ever, so that his “no-good-at-cooking-wife” could cook him some and he could make his life worthwhile by eating it.

And I was so shocked that I looked at them for nearly one minute of my precious time, wondering if anyone in the whole world could be dumb enough to say this in front of a class full of students giving exams. The miss, becoming very happy and satisfied, started writing the recipe on the back of a question paper, carefully and with tremendous enthusiasm, every single step of it in extreme detail, loud enough so that the kids in the front two rows will have nightmares involving themselves being turned into spicy Chicken chilli. (Btw. Did you know? Capsicums are rare in most markets. But in Agora or Meena Bazaar you can get them throughout the year.)

The only thing I could do after coming out of the hall was to express my gratitude to Allah that I didn't loose my mind. At least it didn't feel like Vogon poetry, but pretty close.

Another “incident,” (“misfortune,” as I'd rather prefer) occurred when I found out that R miss was once again back in our hall with her beautifully (!) high-pitched screams. There was another miss who wasn't that bad and was more of a listener than talker. The problem was with me, or with my luck to be precise, I had my maths exam that day. It didn't went very well, but at the end of our exam time, R miss started talking as if it was the end of the time…!! I heard her talking about her cute little child, the greatest inventions the kid did, the kid's (stupid and oh-so-cute) talking skills and the all the amazing wonders she did in her 4 years of living time.

Not only did I lose my concentration, I also lost the tracks of my thinking. You can easily think what would happen to a student doing maths if he hears the sound of constant chattering and nattering of a person sitting very close, but our teacher unfortunately couldn't.

Once in another maths exam, a fat antelope-ish teacher came. He sat right in front of me, and was actually reading my copy while I was trying to answer the stupid questions. He asked for my question and asked me why I didn't answer all the questions and exclaimed how incredibly easy they were. (I myself thought that he would actually help me, or it seemed to me so, though sadly he didn't in the end.)

For me, sitting on the front desk and giving exams is no laughing matter. Me and my poorly distributed marks suffered a lot for the same teachers who were supposed to help me to do terribly good.

Claimer: I, myself, claim that all the things mentioned above is absolutely true and the article was written with no intention to pochafy my teachers (who have blessed us with their both very sweet and pretty awful deeds). But what matters is that these incidents actually took place. And I've got living proofs (who, of course, will not speak anything they've heard! Where's the courage when you need some?). Nevertheless, is it not easy to imagine what kind of “help” a teacher can sometimes give to make a student's result better?

By Orin

Jane Doe

It was one hell of a way to go. I stepped out from the air-conditioned bowels of the supermarket, only to be flattened by the midday heat. Squinting even behind my sunglasses, I hobbled on to the pavement, arms occupied with shopping bags, and cell-phone tucked firmly between chin and shoulder. Finding a CNG shouldn't be too hard. With my attention occupied upstairs, there was no way I could have spotted the crack on the curb, and barely noticed it when the pencil heels of my shoe went in. I did notice, though, when the next step sent me lurching forward. And I also noticed, if only very briefly, that the shiny red car pulling into the curb to park, against whose bumper I cracked my skull, had headlights shaped like feline eyes. It took no time at all for a huge crowd to accumulate on the spot where I fell, but by then, I was too busy being dead to notice. The driver of the car was too busy reacting in shock to notice that the cell phone had flown out from my grip and got crunched under his tyre.

There were screams, shouts and exclamations all around. Advice was shouted, and someone went to call the doctors. Someone else called the police. The driver of the offending car was collared, and he protested vociferously that he wasn't to blame, because he couldn't help it if I had decided to head-butt his car.

Someone bent down to check my pulse, and, in as dramatic a tone as he could muster, pronounced me dead. A rumble of murmurs went through the crowd.

“No wedding ring. The poor thing wasn't even married.”
“It's a shame, really; she was quite pretty”
“I just don't understand why women have to wear these stupid heels. They are so dangerous!”
“That's a nice dress she's wearing. Must be from ____ Boutique”
“Oh? But isn't that place really expensive?”
“She must be loaded”
“Well, she's not wearing much jewellery…”
“What kind of car did she come in?”
“If she came in a car, her driver would have spotted her by now.”
“Oi! Anyone over here driving for this lady?”
“Who is she?”

This was the cue to start rummaging through my purse. The search turned up a little spare change, which was pocketed so fast it looked like sleight of hand, a couple of lozenges, a bundle of receipts and invoices, a used paper napkin, a pair of nail-clippers, and a ball-point pen sans the cap. There were no visiting cards, no driver's licences, no phone numbers. My cell-phone, when discovered, had been shattered beyond repair.

By now, the boys in blue (or teal and navy at any rate) had appeared, and there were the usual questions about what happened, whether I had any cash or jewellery, how much bribe money the offending driver was willing to pay to prevent a manslaughter case, etcetera. Finally, the inevitable: who was she?

By this time the heat was drying up the blood and my body began to smell. I was hauled off to the hospital and then stored in a freezer at the morgue. A bunch of volunteers gathered up the shopping bags I'd dropped, making inferences about me as they sorted through my shopping; some of these were spot on, and the others miles out of the ballpark.

My body lay in the freezer for a while. The coroner who was finally called on to perform the autopsy learned a lot about my lifestyle from the state of my organs. Unfortunately, organs don't have registration numbers, so while he learnt that I had at some point had an appendix operation, and had three fillings in my teeth, he never discovered my name.

Days flew by. I got some room-mates inside the freezer. It was nice at first, then gradually got too crowded. No one came to file any 'missing persons' complaints. The press published a tiny news item in the back-page of one of the newspapers. (This was too small a matter for much press coverage, what with the celebrations over the capture of a 'terrorist kingpin').

Finally, one rainy afternoon, I was buried in a mass graveyard as a lawaris. Like the dandelion seed that flies through the rain and lands randomly, I just disappeared.

(Special thanks to Reggie for inspiration for the final draft)

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Book review
Little People

I've always found it infuriating when people confuse fantasy with kiddy fairytales. It's almost as bad as calling anime 'cartoons'. I'm sure Le Chupacabra would have agreed had he been reading this.

Anyway, this week, continuing on my four-week fantasy special, I came across this awesome book that is unmistakably adult, and yet retains its magic, in a Shrek-like manner. The author of My Hero is back with another of his genre-splicing, tongue-in-cheek gems, and this one's called Little People.

The story is about a young boy called Mike Higgins, who sees an elf at age eight, and his step-father's reaction to this experience is so aggressively antagonistic that little Mike is convinced that elf-sightings are a terrible taboo. Thus begins his secret obsession with all things elfish.

During his adolescent years, he meets the moody and enigmatic Cruella (named after the 101 Dalmations villainess), who bears an obvious grudge against her parents for naming her thus and the two strike up a comradeship of the outcasts. To Cru, Mike confesses his theories about elves, and she points out that his step-father was probably using the little critters as slave labour. Mike decides to investigate, and opens a can of worms that changes his life forever. I daren't breathe another word about the plot without spoiling everything, but be prepared for some shocking twists.

This story is as far from your average fluffy fairytale as you could get. The elves aren't your sweet and friendly flying fey folk. They smoke, drink beer, swear colourfully, and then there's Mike Higgins, who is definitely not your typical hero, just as Cruella the love interest is nothing like those vapid, swooning damsels in distress.

As always, Holt manages to borrow shamelessly from other books, television and even politics, and adds all these different element to this crazy, twisted smorgasbord of a plot. He'll have you chortling with laughter at his goofy, tongue-in-cheek humour, as you flip the pages till the very end!

So if you want a little escape into fantasy that is still real and believable enough to make you part of its world, this is definitely the read for you!

Sabrina F Ahmad


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